FIELD WALKS

Field Walks are the type of activity which can essentially be done by anyone, anywhere that one has the permission of the owner of the property to do it. It basically involves walking along and keeping your eyes open, looking for artifacts.


Before proceeding in this discussion, please note the underlined words above. In many if not most cases, the area being examined will not be open to the public: It may be a farmer's field, or a construction site, or any other place where the ground has been overturned to expose a thin layer of soil beneath the topmost level.

Please refer to the Office of State Archaeology's web page on "FAQ's for Private Citizens" by clicking here.


In walking and looking, it's helpful to be aware of where you are. That is, if you're looking for pre-Contact (that is, pre-European Contact) projectile points and the like, then it's best to look in areas near a river: both where it is today and especially where it was in the past, as the course of a river will change over time. Other places might be flat areas on top of hills, which would allow views of the surrounding countryside while also providing places to live and farm.

On the other hand, if your interest lies (say) in post-Contact farmlands, towns or factories, then checking town maps and records, or the sites of abandoned factories and railroad tracks might be where you'd start.

Regardless, the success of any Field Walk starts with the homework you've put in ahead of time.

As noted above, the pictures in this section are of artifacts found in a field adjacent to one where an archaeological dig was in progress. The area was well-known as being one where such artifacts existed; and in walking about, it became clear to the author that the area had been well-used in pre-Contact times. For example, there were numerous examples of flint and quartz chips scattered about, as well as groups of shattered freshwater clamshells. The larger artifacts shown in the following pages simply confirmed the accuracy of this evidence.

One other thing to note is that sometimes you may come across "a rock" which on closer examination is more than that. In one case, such a rock was turned over to reveal a partially-completed projectile point. In another, examination of the rock showed worn areas along the edge, evidence that it was used as a hammerstone, to chip or split rocks, shells, or other items. Again, keeping your eyes -- and your mind -- open is the other key to a successful Field Walk.

Finally, and to reiterate: Where you're walking probably isn't on your own land; and what you find might in fact be archaeologically significant. The site where the Field Walk images were taken was on land where we had permission to do field activities. The items found were felt to be archaeologically significant by the dig supervisor since they gave strong indication of the use of the land as a Native American campsite; and while we had permission from the owner to keep whatever was found on the land, as a result of their significance the artifacts we found are being turned over to the OSA. Regardless, in a Field Walk the owner should be given the right of first refusal on the keeping artifacts.

If there are any questions regarding the uniqueness or significance of your find, you should by all means contact the Office of State Archaeology. We all have a stake in maintaining our archaeological heritage!